GLAA Endorses Bill for Service of Process on MPD Officers
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Bill 17-495

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GLAA Endorses Bill for Service of Process on MPD Officers

Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

Monday, March 10, 2008

To: Members of D.C. Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary

Dear Councilmember:  

We wish to echo our colleagues in ACLU of the National Capital Area urging passage of Bill 17-495 to combat the unfortunate history of MPD officers evading service of process and disobeying the Council’s previous enactment to address the problem, the Metropolitan Police Department Amendment Act of 2006.

As ACLU/NCA Executive Director Johnny Barnes, Legal Director Arthur B. Spitzer, and Legislative Counsel Stephen M. Block stated in a letter dated March 3, “To this day, service of process on police officers continues to be a cat and mouse game. Twice in recent weeks we have encountered the usual problem with MPD officers’ resisting service of process; we were able to effect service only with the ‘off the books’ intervention of MPD’s General Counsel—a favor not available to lawyers who do not have a relationship with Mr. Ryan. Evasion of service by police officers reflects a disdain for the law on the part of those sworn to uphold it. It delays the course of justice and adds to the cost of the litigation.”

We have observed over many decades the efforts of executive agencies to eviscerate laws via bad implementation. We are therefore troubled, if not altogether surprised, by the problem raised by ACLU/NCA concerning MPD’s subversion of the previous enactment by means of a rulemaking that treats the designation of an agent for process serving as voluntary on the part of officers, rather than mandatory on the part of the department (the latter being the clear intent of the law). This evasion must be stopped. Bill 17-495 does this by specifying that service “may be effected by serving the papers to the office of the General Counsel of the Department during normal business hours or by sending a copy to the General Counsel by registered or certified mail.”

As ACLU/NCA states, “The provision for substituted service in Bill 17-495 fully meets the requirement for due process.”

We urge you to uphold police accountability to the law by promptly passing Bill 17-495. Thank you for your attention.


Barrett L. Brick

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